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Oct 25, 2021
Autumn is my favorite season, The last several years, however, “autumn” has become a synonym for “crazy”, a time when Jim and I ask ourselves how two sane people without real jobs can come up so short on free time. This is a good problem: Fall is art season, a time when galleries expect new work to exhibit for the holidays, a time when online shopping goes wild, a time when collectors, traveling to enjoy the Davis Mountains’ autumn weather, make appointments to visit Old Spanish Trail Gallery, where I'm the Artist in Residence. Most of the year, I create. Come October, however, I’m inevitably consumed with marketing, selling, socializing, and hoping for time at my easel to fill suddenly empty spots on gallery walls. Autumn means all aspects of being an artist demand 200% of me, 25 hours daily. Whew! This fall has been even crazier than usual.
Someone once told Jim we’re both “overly responsible”. You have to work at that. “Responsible” demands not hours, but months of busy moments. Years. A lifetime of good, busy moments is a good thing, right? Hmm...
Aren’t we responsible for our own well-being? How often do we break our necks to fill someone else’s needs at the neglect of our own, then pat ourselves on the weary back as we plod responsibly through a new day of new responsibilities?
The business side of being a professional artist is hard but essential work. And I always love painting. My paintings are my soul children, so I love all of my paintings. But I don’t love them equally. Sometimes, I love my creation because it lets me revisit a special place. Some paintings spring from a memorable experience Jim and I shared. Sometimes, especially with plein air painting, I love a landscape simply because I survived the act of creating it. And sometimes, I love a painting because it becomes a gift I give myself, something irresponsibly delicious that I didn’t have to do and wasn’t sure I could do.
Each morning as I sip my coffee and respond to emails, post on Facebook and Instagram, order supplies and plan my busy day, I see sunrise on Point of Rocks, a landmark on the Davis Mountain Scenic Loop. Point of Rocks is a historic place, the first watering hole and rest stop on the Butterfield-Overland Trail out of Fort Davis toward El Paso. We pass the imposing formation every time we go to town. We often picnicked there when I was a girl. Spying Point of Rocks as we near home is comforting as seeing a mound of macaroni and cheese on a china plate. I’ve included this rock formation as part of sprawling Davis Mountain landscapes several times. But for years, I’d never tried to translate its stately, solitary imposing face into two dimensions as the star of the painting. Grand things can be intimidating to paint, because you risk rendering them as less-than-grand.
But one October morn, as I fortified myself with my second cup of coffee, Jim said, “Look outside!” I looked, grabbed my camera and dashed outdoors. Barefoot and in my nightie, I stood on a tree stump and began snapping shots. (Thankfully, no one was around to snap one of me.) Reds and violets and blues, oh my! And sunglow backlighting Point of Rocks with the most magical aura…
Irresponsibly, I pushed back printing giclees. I postponed laying out that ad. I delayed updating my website with my newest painting and delivering art to V6 Collection of The Gage. With a zillion tasks demanding attention, I clamped a large pastel board to my easel, then went to work on a painting that I wasn’t sure my skill level measured up to. I didn’t really care—I painted the rich promise of a wonderful day and the way I’d felt as I stood on that stump in my nightie.
Creating this painting was a rest stop for me, a magical interlude along the busy trail that is Life. I gave myself the gift of going off the clock. My responsibly created To Do List languished Undone while I busied myself stroking the colors of that bejeweled sunrise above the subtle glow of ancient rock onto Pastelbord. No lives were lost, no businesses failed, no relationships faltered in my absence.
Artists are seldom the best judges of their own work. Regardless, it’s one of my favorites. It pushed my skills up a notch. The act of painting this one serenaded my weary soul. “Quit” Jim said as I painted the final stems of grasses. Thus warned, in a burst of euphoria I signed “Lindy Cook Severns”.
As it turned out, the next several days were rainy and too dark to paint. I had plenty of time to accomplish all those neglected responsibilities, which I faced with renewed energy. Stealing the time to envision and create a painting I didn’t think I could pull off was the most responsible thing I could have done that autumn.
Where is your Point of Rest? What gift can you give yourself this busy season? This busy lifetime?
The rich promise of each new day begs your attention.
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